Monday, August 24, 2009

Bix's Mémoires: Journey of Repentance, July 30, 2009 – August 11, 2009

The original intent of our Journey of Repentance was to apologize to the Japanese people for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At that time it was not clear in what venue or to what body or person(s) the apology was to be made. The feeling was unless the American Government or Americans apologize, the United States would continue to threaten other nations with its nuclear weapon superiority and use its military might to solve its international disputes.

We have military bases around the globe to reinforce our demands when we are threatened. The reliance on this type of diplomacy is to be caught in the bondage of violence – a violence that will eat away the heart, mind, soul and body of our people. Nuclear superiority, arising out of the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is the Midas touch that will bring the U.S. to crumbling ruin unless it begins by rejecting nuclear weapons.

Through apology, it was envisioned that our group would commit itself to work (more) deeply for nuclear weapon abolition.The Journey of Repentance had grown to 18 people.

Before we left for Japan we received an e-mail from Steven Leeper stating that Mayor Akiba of Hiroshima, who is president of the international Mayors for Peace, did not agree with apologies. He preferred people to see themselves as world citizens who would work to abolish nuclear weapons as a threat to our common human family. The mayor strongly urged all people to listen to the testimony and experience of the Hibakusha (survivors). They have come through their incredible suffering where once they envied the dead about them to now giving their lives as a non-retaliatory (non-violent) witness to end nuclear weapon attacks and eventually all war. The mayor pointed out that the Hibakusha have kept alive the possibility of a world without nuclear weapons for 64 years. They are the well-spring and a fount of pure water from which and to drink and to bring hope to people for a world free of nuclear weapons.

He also emphasized his contention that all people make mistakes, and that we as human beings accept the fact of our making mistakes in accepting one another. His observation has come out of his experience of the survivors not holding retaliatory or blaming attitudes – but rather they have grown into non violent witnesses to the need for all people to accept one another.

We changed our focus from apology to listening. Listen to learn. It did not become as urgent to apologize. The feeling of sorrow and even horror for what the U.S. had done and the resolve to work for abolition of nuclear weapons was still present and became strengthened by experiences of our journey.

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